Chaosmosis: An Ethico Aesthetic Paradigm (Gacy)
Mathew Gacy 9/20/04 Chaosmosis: An Ethico Aesthetic Paradigm Indiana UP, 1995 135 pgs 1. Synopsis: In Chaosmosis, we find a proposal for new ways of understanding and producing subjectivity that are conducive to the refoundation of politics in a very broad sense. Félix Guattari advances a schizoanaytic modelisation of subjecticity as a necessary alternative to psychoanalysis and its reductive fixations on the family, structure, and language. Schizoanalysis instead is directed towards complexification, and divergent actualization. It recognizes the interaction between individuals, society, and institutions in the production of subjectivity as well as the heterogeneous construction of the Unconscious. This modelisation, or rather, metamodelisation utilizes the categories of material, energetic, and semiotic Fluxes, concrete and abstract machinic Phylums such as the steam engine, but also the writing machine, virtual Universes of value--more or less, value systems, though the concept is directed towards a recognition of their role in the production of subjectivity--and finite existential Territories, which are psychological, affective spaces created by an experience or situation. Throughout the text, we encounter the concept of the machine liberated from its common technological connotations and expanded to encompass living beings, partial objects, and more abstract entities. Guattari develops a machinism, with its connotations of dynamism and processuality, that he opposes to structure and with which he describes subjectivity and society. Guattari valorizes the aesthetic machine's exemplification of creativity and its involvement in the production of new existential Territories. The capacity for creation is not exclusive to the aesthetic machine, but it carries it farthest. For example, while psychoanalysis has affirmed its scientific status, Guattari claims that it would benefit from the adoption of an aesthetic processual paradigm such that it might "reacquire the creativity of its wild years at the turn of the century" (106). Regarding the production of existential Territories, Guattari writes that
whatever their sophistication, a block of percept and affect, by way of aesthetic composition, agglomerates in the same transversal flash, the subject and object, the self and other, the material and incorporeal, the before and after. . . In short, affect is not a question of representation and discursitvity, but of existence. I find myself transported into a Debussyst Universe, a blues Universe, a blazing becoming of Provence. I have crossed a threshold of consistency. Before the hold of this block of sensation, this nucleus of partial subjectivation, everything was dull, beyond it, I am no longer as I was before, I am swept away by a becoming other, carried beyond my familiar existential Territories (93).
2. Thesis: Guattari posits that new (schizoanalytic) methods of modeling subjectivity that are fundamentally based on heterogeneity and creativity are necessary to advance a general "liberatory" project. 3. Key words: --AUTOPOEISIS: refers to collective entities that engender and specify their own organization and limits and maintain diverse relations of alterity --FINITE EXISTENTIAL TERRITORIES: the psychological, affective space created by an experience/situation --FLUXES (material, energetic, and semiotic): expresses the dynamism of these entities --MACHINIC PHYLUMS (concrete and abstract): groups or families of machines, visible in both the steam engine and the writing machine --VIRTUAL UNIVERSES OF VALUE: value systems implicated in the production of subjectivity 4. School/ Discourse: French Post-Structuralist, Psychoanalytic 5. Thoughts Triggered:
There is a possible tension between the generally democratic and liberatory values that Guattari expresses and the more prominent, better developed valorization of creation, experimentation, and the actualization of virtualities. Elsewhere, Guattari does stress the necessity of a constant vigilance in the face of the potential emergence of micro-fascisms, but he fails to address how the constant becomings that he espouses might be guided and their potential ramifications monitored.
6. Context: Chaosmosis was published in 1992 and is Félix Guattari's final book. In many ways, it is a reinterpretation of Marx and Freud and continues lines of thought that he and Gilles Deleuze developed in Anti-Oedipus (1971) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980). The text is firmly situated within the French post-structuralist theoretical field. Guattari is influenced, most notably, by Nietzsche, Bergson, and far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics. 7. Applications
The text would seem to be of primary relevance for psychology and cultural theory. 8. Mapping of Text
Guattari, Felix. Chaosmosis. Trans. Paul Bains and Julian Pefanis. Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1995. 1 ON THE PRODUCTION OF SUBJECTIVITY 4 In such conditions it appears opportune to forge a more transversalist conception of subjectivity, one which would permit us to understand both its idiosyncratic territorialised couplings (Existential Territories) and its opening onto value systems (Incorporeal Universes) with their social and cultural implications. 6 [Daniel Stern] emphasizes the inherently trans-subjective character of an infant's early experiences. 7 The important thing here is not only the confrontation with a new material of expression, but the constitution of complexes of subjectivation: multiple exchanges between individual-group-machine. These complexes actually offer people diverse possibilities for recomposing their existential corporeality, to get out of their repetitive impasses and, in a certain way, to resingularise themselves. Grafts of transference operate in this way, not issuing from ready-made dimensions of subjectivity crystallised into structural complexes, but from a creation which itself indicates a kind of aesthetic paradigm. One creates new modalities of subjectivity in the same way that an artist creates new forms from the palette. 8,9** [provisional definition of subjectivity] 9 Subjectivity does not only produce itself throgh the psychogenetic stages of psychoanalysis of the "mathemes" of the Unconscious, but also in the large-scale social machines of language and the mass media--which canot be described as human. 10 My perspective involves shifting the human and social sciences from scientific paradigms towards ethico-aesthetic paradigms. 11 [modelisation] In a more general way, one has to admit that every individual and social group conveys its own system of modelising subjectivity; that is, a certain cartography--composed of cognitive references as well as mythical, ritual and symptomatological references--with which it positions itself in relation to its affects and anguishes, and attempts to manage its inhibitions and drives. 12** the crucial thing is to move in the direction of co-management in the production of subjectivity. . . Contemporary upheavals undoubtedly call for a modelisation turned more towards the future and the emergence of new social and aesthetic practices. I opted for an Unconscious . . .[FINISH] 13* How do certain semiotic segments achieve their autonomouy, start to work for themselves ad to secrete new fields of reference? It is from such a rupture that an existential singularisation correlative to the genesis of new coefficients of freedom will become possible. This detatchment of an ethico-aesthetic "partial object" from the field of dominant significations corresponds both to the promotion of a mutant desire and to the achievement of a certain disinterestedness. Here I would like to establish a bridge between the concept of a partial object (obect "a" as theorised by Lacan) that marks the autonomisation of the components of unconscious subjectivity, and the subjective autonomisation relative to the aesthetic object. [Lacan object a] [Bakhtin--> what Guattari call partial enunciation] [subjective autonomisation] 15 [existential refrains] Thus it it not only in the context of music and poetry that we see the work of such fragments detached from content, fragments which I place in the category of "existential refrains." The polyphony of modes of subjectivation actually corresponds to a multiplicity of ways of "keeping time." Other rhythmics are thus led to crystallise existential assemblages, which they embody and singularise. Thee simples examples of refrains delimiting existential Territories can be found in the ethology of numerous bird species. Certain specific song sequences serve to seduce a sexual partner, warn off intruders, or announce the arrival of predators. Each time this involves marking out a well-defined functional space. In archaic societies, it is through rhythms, chants, dances, masks, marks on the body, ground and totems, on ritual occasions and with mythical references, that other kinds of collective existential Territories are circumscribed. 16 To illustrate this mode of production of polyphonic subjectivity, where a complex refrain plays a dominant role, consider the example of televisual consumption. When I watch television, I exist at the intersection: 1. of a perceptual fascination provoked by the screen's luminous animation which borders on the hypnotic, 2. of a captive relation with the narrative content of the program, associated with a lateral awareness of surrounding events (water boiling on the stove, a child's cry, the telephone . . .), 3. of a world of fantasms occupying my daydreams. My feeling of personal identity is thus pulled in different directions. How can I maintain a relative sense of unicity, despite the diversity of components of subjectivation that pass through me? It's a question of the refrain that fixes me in front  of the screen, henceforth constituted as a projective existential node. My identity has become that of the speaker, the person who speaks from the television. Like Bakhtin, I would say that the refrain is not based on elements of form, material or ordinary signification, but on the detachment of an existential "motif" (or leitmotiv) which installs itself like an "attractor" within a sensible and significational chaos. The different components conserve their heterogeneity, but are nevertheless captured by a refrain which couples them to the existential Territory of my self. 17 [constellation of Universes] [example] The paradoxical concept of a complex refrain will enable us, in psychoanalytic treatment, to refer to an interpretive event, no longer to Universals or mathemes, not to preestablished structures of subjectivity, but rather to what I call a constellation of Universes. This does not involve Universes of reference in general, but incorporeal domains of entities we detect at the same time that we produce them, and which appear to have been always there, from the moment we engender them. 18 (and earlier) [issues of time, irreversibility] This is why I have opted for pragmatic interventions oriented towards the construction of subjectivities, towards the production of fields of virtualities which wouldn't simply be polarised by a symbolic hermeneutic centered on childhood. 19 In these conditions, the task of the poetic function, in an enlarged sense, is to recompose artificially rarefied, resingularised Universes of subjectivation. For them, its not a matter of transmitting messages, investing images as aids to identification, patterns of behaviour as props for modelisation procedures, but of catalysing existential operators capable of acquiring consistence and persistence. [poetic-existential catalysis] When it is effectively triggered in a given enunciative area--that is, situated in a historical and geo-political perspective--such an analytico-poetic function establishes itself as a mutant nucleus of auto-referentiality and auto-valorisation. 20 Beyond the poetic function, the question of the apparatuses of subjectivation presents itself. And, more precisely, what must characterise them so that they abandon seriality--in Sartre's sense--and enter into processes of singularisation which restore to existence what we might call its auto-essentialisation. . . . the three ecologies--the environment, the socius, and the psyche. We cannot conceive of a collective recomposition of the  socius, correlative to a resingularisation of subjectivity, without a new way of conceiving political and economic democracies that respect cultural differences--without multiple molecular revolutions. 21 A partial subjectivity--pre-personal, polyphonic, collective and machinic. Fundamentally, the question of enunciation gets decentered in relation to that of human  individuation. 22 So we are proposing to decentre the question of the subject onto the question of subjectivity. Traditionally, the subject . . . [MORE] Thus, we will start with the primacy of enunciative  substance over the couplet of Expression and Content. 23 I believe I've found a valid alternative to the structuralism inspired by Saussure, one that relies on the Expression/ Content distinction formulated by Hjelmslev, that is to say, based precisely on the potential reversibility of Expression and Content. Rather than playing on the Expression/ Content opposition which, with Hjelmslev, still repeats Saussure's signifier/ signified couplet, this would involve putting a multiplicity of components of Expression, or substances of Expression in parallel, in polyphony. [abstract machine] [Hjelmslev] 24 . . . to integrate into enunciative assemblages an indefinite number of substances of Expression, such as biological codings or organisational forms belonging to the socius. [machinic subjectivity] Expressive, linguistic and non-linguistic substances install themselves ast the junction of discursive chains (belonging to a finite, preformed world, the world of the Lacanian Other) and incorporeal registers with infinite, creationist virtualities  (which have nothing to do with Lacanian "mathemes"). It is in this zone of intersection that subject and object fuse and establish their foundations. It concerns a given that phenomenologists have addressed when they demonstrate that intentionality is inseparable from its object and involves a "before" in the discursive, subject-object relation. 25 We can trace this intuition to Bergson, who shed light on the non-discursive experience of duration by oppositing it to a time cut up into present, past and future, according to spatial schemas. [pathic subjectivity, before the subject-object relation . . .] 26** [pathic subjectivation] 28 [The logic of discursive ensembles vs. pathic logic] [MORE] The logic of discursive sets finds a kind of desperate fulfillment in Capital, the Signifier, and Being with a capital B. Capital is the referent for the generalised equivalence between labour and goods; the Signifier the capitalistic referent for semi-  ological expression, the great reducer of ontological polyvocality. The true, the good, the beautiful are "normalising" categories fro processes which escape the logic of circumscribed sets. Capital smashes all other modes of valorisation. 29 [ontological intensity] [MORE] 30 But maybe it's necessary to affirm both these positions concurrently: the domain of virtual intensities establishing itself prior to the distinctions being made between the semiotic machine, the referred object and the enunciative subject. It's from a failure to see that machinic segments are autopoietic and ontogenetic that one endlessly makes universalist reductions to the Signifier and to scientific rationality. 31 Note that the categories of metamodelisation proposed here--Fluxes, machinic Phylums, existential Territories, incorporeal Universes--are only of intertest because they come in fours and allow us to break free of teriary descriptions which always end up falling back into dualisms. The fourth term stands for an nth term: it is the opening onto multiplicity. What distinguishes metamodelisation from modelisation is the way it uses terms to develop possible openings onto the virtual and onto creative processuality. 2 MACHINIC HETEROGENESIS 33 [Humberto Maturana and Francisco Vareli] 34 [diagrammatic schemas] 35** [on abstract machines] [machinic assemblage] When we speak of abstract machines, by "abstract" we can also understand "extract" in the sense of extracting. They are montages capable of relating all the heterogeneous levels that they traverse and that we have just enumerated. The abstract machine is transversal to them, and it is this abstract machine that will or will not give these levels of existence, an efficiency, a power of ontological auto-affirmation. The different components are swept up and reshaped by a sort of dynamism. Such a machinic assemblage will hereafter be described as a machinic assemblage. 36 It is, then, impossible to deny the participation of human thought in the essence of machinism . . .What we need here is a distinction between on the one hand semiologies that produce significations, the common currency of social groups--like the "human" enunciation of people who work with machines--and on the other, a-signifying semiotics which, regardless of the quantity of significations they convey, handle figures of expression that might be qualified as "non-human" (such as equations and plans which enunciate the machine and make it act in a diagrammatic capacity on technical and experimental apparatuses. [MORE] 37*** [machinic vs. structure] 39 [autopoietic vs. allopoietic] The abstract machine passes through all these heterogeneous components but above all it heterogenises them, beyond any unifying trait and according to a principle of irreversibility, singularity, and necessity. 41 [great examples of different machines] 42 ["the delirious machines of Jean Tinguely] 45 [registers of machinic alterity] 47 [Heidegger's example of the commercial plane on the runway] 48 Why are we so insistent about the impossibility of establishing the general transalatability of diverse referential and partial enunciative components of assemblage? . . . distinctions between the different forms of semiological, semiotic, and coded linearity: 49 [a-signifying semiotic machines; example] [hypertexts] 51 And, here again, we need to rediscover a manner of being of Being--before, after, here and everywhere else--without beng, however, identical to itself: a processual, polyphonic Being singularisable by infinitely complexifiable textures, according to the infinite speeds which animate its virtual compositions. 53 . . . pure intensive repetitions that I have called the refrain function. 54* 55 [constellations of Universes of value] 56** 3 SCHIZOANALYTIC METAMODELISATION 58-9*** 58+ go over again 59 By making assemblages of enunciation open, chaotically determined, the concatentation of the four ontological function of Universe, machinic Phylum, Flux and Territory, preserve their pragmatic processuality. 65 [on universes and territories] [the emergent self] [processes of child development from birth onward] 67 [another use of the dialectic] [Universes of reference] 69 [the kitchen at La Borde] [degree of openness (coefficient of transversality)] 70 collective is not here synonomous with groups 71 [Universes, Consistency, partial analyser, a-signifying semiotic, network of nucleu of partial enunciation] 72 [Paul Virilio's "dromospheric" velocities of exchange] The Lacanian Signifier homogenises the various semiotics, it loses the multidimensional character of manyu of them. Its fundamental linearity, inherited from Saussurian structuralism, does not allow it to apprehend the pathic, non discursice, autopoietic character of partial nuclei of uninciation. One indicative topos refers to another indicative topos, without the trans-topical dimension of agglomeration--which charcaterise intensive Territories--ever emerging. 73 [Lacanian rereading of Fort/Da] 74** [assemblage of enunciation in Fort/Da] 76* The Unconscious of the dualist hypothesis of drives of life and death, like that of the transcendence of the Signifier--the murderer of the "things" of context--petrify chaosmic abolition, by aking it lose its immanence; they transform it inot deathly negativity, into a cadaverous object. It is true that a certain capitalistic, reductionist use of language leads it to a state of a signifing linerarity of discrete binary entities which smother, silence, disempower and kill the polysemic qualities of a Content reduced to the state of a neutral "referent." Isn't the task of analysis precisecly to recharge Expression with semiotic hetergeneity and to run counter to the disenchantment, demystification and depoetisation of the contemporary world denounced by Max Weber? 4 SCHIZO CHAOSMOSIS 77 . . . foundational intentionality of subject-object relations. . . 77-8 [the/ a Real] Psychosis starkly reveals an essential source of being-in-the-world. 78*** [Universes/ Territories] [semiotization] [somewhat earlier, discussions of consistency] 79 [on psychosis] [chaosmic existential stasis] Psychosis thus not only haunts neurosis and perversion but also all the forms of normality. . . . --the exclusive insistence of an existential stasis that I describe as chaosmic and which is capable of assuing all the hues of a schizo-paranoiac-manic-epileptoid, etc., spectrum. 80 [Derrida and differance] Why describe the homogenesis of ontological referents--and, by extension, the latent homogensis of other modalities of subjectivation--as chaotic? It's because, all lthings considered, worlding a complexion of sense alwas involves taking hold of a massive and immediate ensemble of contextual idveristy, a fusion in an undifferentiated, or rather de-differentiated, whole. A world is only constituted on the condition of being inhabited by an umbilical point--deconstructive, detotalisating and deterritorialising--from which a subjective positionality embodies itself. . . [MORE]** 81 And chaos is not pure indifferentiation; it possess a specific ontological texture. 83 So we are in the presence of two types of homogenesis: . . . [MORE] 84 The point of this is certainly not to make the schizo a hero of the postmodern . . . [MORE] 85 [the incorporeal Universes of art or religion] [more on chaos vs. complexity] [existential Universes] This, I repeat, stems from the fact that chaosmosis is not exclusive tot he individuated psyche. We are confronted by it in group life, in economic relations, machinism (for example, informatics) and even in the incorporeal Universes of art or religion. 86 Who speaks the truth? This is no longer the question; but how, and under what conditions can the best bring about the pragmatics of incorporeal events that will recompose a world and reinstall processual complexity? The idiosyncratic modelisations grafted onto one-to-one analysis, self-analysis and group  psychotherapy . . . always resort to borrowing from specialised langages. Our problemaitc of chaosmosis and the schizoanalytic escape from the prison of signification is firected--to compensate for these borrowings--towards a necessaryt a-signifying deconstruction of their discursivity and towards placing their ontological efficacy into a pragmatic perspective. 5 MACHINIC ORALITY AND VIRTUAL ECOLOGY 88 Lacan's full and empty speech 89** [oral vs. scriptral substances of expression] Speech empties itself when it falls into the clutches of scriptural semiologies fixed in the order of law, the control of facts, gesutres and feelings. The computer voice--"You have not fastened your seatbelt"--does not leave much room for ambiguity. Ordinary speech tries by constrast to keep alive the presence of at least a minimum of so-called non-verbal semiotic components, where the substances of expression constituted from intonation, rhythm, facial tgraits and postures, reinforce ad take over from each other, superimpose themselves, averting in advance the despotism of signifying circulairty. But at the supermarket there is no more time to chat about the quality of a product of haggle for a good price. The necessary and sufficient information has evacuated the existential dimensions of expression. We are not there to exist but to accomplish our duty as consumers. Instead we will begin with blocks of sensations formed by aesthetic practives before the oral, textural, gestural, postural, plastic ... whose function is to elude significations attachte to the trivial perceptions and opinions informing common sentiments. 90-1* [on the importance of art] In our era, aesthetic machines offer us the most advanced models--relatively speaking--for these blocks of sensation capable of extracting full meaning from all the empty signal systems that invest us from every side. 91 [ecosophy] This is to say that generalised ecology--or ecosophy-- will work as a science of ecosystems, as a bid for political regenera-tion, and as an ethical, aesthetic and analytical engagement. 93** But whatever their sophistication, a block of percept and affect, by way of aesthetic composition, agglomerates in the same transversal flash, the subject and object, the self and other, the material and incorporeal, the before and after. . . In short, affect is not a question of representation and discursitvity, but of existence. I find myself transported into a Debussyst Universe, a blues Universe, a blazing becoming of Provence. I have crossed a threshold of consistency. Before the hold of this block of sensation, this nucleus of partial subjectivation, everything was dull, beyond it, I am no longer as I was before, I am swept away by a becoming other, carried beyond my familiar existential Territories. 94 [the enunciative consistency of Jazz] 96 [umbilical point] [hypertexts again] 97 [Pierre Levy-dynamic ideography] 6 THE NEW AESTHETIC PARADIGM 98 [territorialized Assemblages of eununciation] 98-9 [on archaic social life, art, etc.] 99 [on the transition to modern configurations] 99-100 [Universes of value] 101 [Duchamp] [Again, territorialized Assemblages of enunciation (which seem to be characterized by a "kind of polysemic, animistic, transindividual subjectivity")] 102 [discursive time (time marked by social clocks)] 103 . . . with deterritorialized assemblages of enunciation . . . 104 [materials of expression] 103-4** [modular individuation] 105*** [Capitalisitc deterritorialized assemblages] 106** [the value for psychoanalysis to move from scientific to aesthetic paradigms] 107** [3 tendencies of aesthetic processual paradigms] [the ethico-political implications] [scientific enunciation (with individual, collective, institutional, heads)] 108 [on the three types of enunciative assemblages] 109 [Being as an ontological equivalent] 111 [two types of ontological consistency] 7 THE ECOSOPHIC OBJECT 120 It is less a question of having access to novel cognitive spheres than of apprehending and creating, in pathic modes, mutant existential virtualities. 124 Exploding the hegemony of the capitalist valorisation of the world market consists in giving consistency to the Universes of value of social assemblages and existential Territories which situate themselves, in a manner of speaking, against the implosive evolution we are witnessing. 125 . . . The positionality of these refrains in the ordinary world will be effected, for example, as a derivative and a-signifying function of mythical, fantasmatic and . . . theoretical narrativity. 126 To speak of machines rather than drives, Fluxes rather than libido, existential Territories rather than instances of the self and transference, incorporeal Universes rather than unconscious complexes and sublimation, chaosmic entities rather than signifiers--fitting ontological dimensions together in a circular manner rather than dividing the world up into infrastructure and superstructure--may not simply be a matter of vocabulary . . . [MORE] 128 The primary purpose of ecosophic cartography is thus not to signify and communicate but to produce assemblages of enunciation capable of capturing the points of singularity of a situation. 131 The work of art, for those who use it, is an activity of unframing, of rupturing sense, of baroque proliferation or extreme impoverishment, which leads to a recreation and a reinvention of the subject itself. What is important is to know if a work leads effectively to a mutant production of enunciation. 133 Beyond material and political demands, what emerges is an aspiration for individual and collective reappropriation of the production of subjectivity.